When my son asked me to join myspace back in 2005, so that I could keep up with the latest on his musical career, I had no idea what I was in for. Since delving into the world of social media, I have met a lot of marvelous folks and have become good friends with many outstanding writers all over the planet. Rosemary Nissen-Wade, whose blog is SnakyPoet, is one of those people. I have contributed many a haiku to her myspace blog, Haiku on Friday, and in a Facebook group she started, Haiku and Things. Actually, I attribute to her the fact that I have continued to hone the skill of writing senryū and now use it as an abbreviated form of journal writing. Among other great things, Rosemary is a poetry powerhouse. I feel a lot of kinship with her because I too consider myself someone who loves poetry and spread its seeds wherever I go.
Here are Rosemary's "Next Big Thing," questions and my responses.
Rosemary: What is the working title of your book or project?
Odilia: The title is "The Color of Light"
R: What sparked the book off?
O: I have wanted to do a collection of poems for some of the Orisha and Mexica [Aztec] deities for sometime now. I have been interested in Mexican traditional spiritual practices since I was a girl and have studied what was available since then. In 1997, I was doing research on African Traditional Religions and saw many similarities between the Orishas, deities from the Yoruba traditional religion of Ifa, and the Mexica deities, and wanted to explore these similarities in a book, which includes poetry.
R: How would you describe your project/book/piece of work?
O: It is an exploration of the Orisha and Mexica deities mainly in poetry, but also in an extensive description of the journey of being called to them.
R: How long did it take you to find your own style and voice?
O: I started writing in my early teens. I was never very confident about my writing and didn't really share it until I began taking part in writers' workshops. The first group of writers I worked with in the 80's was Centro Chicano/Latino de Escritores, in the Mission District of San Francisco. Here I was helped my fellow writers to hone my skills and not be afraid to share my writing with an audience.
R: In what ways do you think 'writer you' differs from or has similarities to the everyday you?
O: I really don't see much of separation between the writer and the everyday me. I consider myself an artist/activist, and for me, these two ways of being are inseparable. The artist helps to bring in the spiritual aspects of who I am, and the way I like to walk in the world - with lots of compassion for my fellow human beings. The activist in me is always seeking balance, fairness, and justice. I believe a lot in talking things out instead of acting them out. I wish our leaders would do much more of this, maybe then, we'd have peace instead of so much war and hatred in the world.
R: Who or what makes you pick up that pen or start typing at the keyboard?
O: I have a daily writing practice, no matter where I am or how I am feeling, I write something. It may be a senryū, a longer poem, or if I am lucky, a chapter of my novel. I am always telling my creative writing workshop participants that if one is going to call themselves a writer they must write - and I walk my talk.
R: Imagine someone waved a magic wand and you were only able to write one book in your lifetime and you knew it would be perfect and say exactly what you intended and be understood and appreciated by everyone; what would you write about?
O: That is a difficult question Rosemary. I guess I would have to say that I would write whatever came to me to write about. I believe that my ancestors play a big role in what I am inspired to write and I honor and believe in that.
Thanks again Rosemary for all you do in the world to encourage folks to write!